As the Packers’ defense struggles, Matt LaFleur chooses his spot to influence Joe Barry’s approach.


Green Bay – For nearly 20 years as an assistant coach in Washington, Kirk Olivadotti worked under eight head coaches.

Nov Turner. Terry Robiskie. Marty Schottenheimer. Steve Sparia. Joe Gibbs. Jim Zorn. Mike Shanahan. Jay Gruden.

Some had an unpleasant past. Some had a defensive past. Some have in fact known about the defense. Some give the coordinator almost free autonomy.

But no one was like Gibbs from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who coached Washington from 1981 to 1992 and won three Super Bowl titles in those 12 years.

When Gibbs returned to his second stint in 2004-2007 to revive the once proud franchise, he came up with the idea of ​​teaming up with defense – Gibbs was an aggressive line coach. , A running back coach and aggressive coordinator before getting his first head coaching job – at a hilarious level.

“Joe Gibbs came across the hall once and he said (to his defensive coach)… Stop! Oliva Dotti, who coached the Green Bay Packers Insideline Backers for the third year, said: He laughed in the middle of the week and said, “It really depends on my personality.”

Gibbs may not have been so indifferent that Oliva Dotti’s anecdote may have made him healthy, but the story is that the number of aggressive head coaches is what their coordinators want. defensive. He points out that he lets you run.

For example, in Green Bay, a pair of Super Bowl-winning head coaches allowed a trusted defense coordinator to handle almost everything on that side of the ball. With Mike Holmgren, it was Fritz Schulmer. With Mike McCarthy, it was Dom Capers. Holmgren and McCarthy will certainly discuss game plans and ideas with Schulmer and Capers, but Holmgren and McCarthy are two veteran defensive coordinators, including during the 1996 and 2010 Super Bowl XLIV championship seasons, respectively. I haven’t dealt with it in detail.

It seemed, at least from the outside, the approach that Packers head coach Matt LaFleur took with defensive coordinator Mike Petin for two years in 2019 and 2020. Hired by McCarthy in 2018, Petin was a defensive coordinator. to success. , And the experience of a head coach that was particularly helpful to La Fleur in his first year as a head coach.

However, after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s NFC Championship game, Petin’s contract expired after the season, dividing the two options. Petin’s defense end in 2020 was 9th in NFL total defense (334 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (23.1 points / game).

With Pettine’s resignation, La Fleur was turned down by Jim Leonhard of the University of Wisconsin and hired Joe Barry as the team’s new defense coordinator after interviewing seven other candidates. La Fleur and Barry were with the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff in 2017 and wanted to lead a version of the Rams defense. LaFleur readily ignored Barry’s failure at two previous coordination gigs in Detroit (2008, 2009) and Washington. (2015, 2016).

The Lions finished in the NFL with 32 teams overall and in defense, with the 2008 team losing 0-16 under Barry’s stepfather Rod Marinelli. Washington’s defenses under Barry have finished in 28th place each in the past two years, with 2015 defenses ranked 17th in scoring defenses and units in 2016 at 19th.

I’m not sure how aggressive LaFleur is on defense, but last week LaFleur provided this information to reporters in a post-game Q&A after defeating the Lions last Monday night. It’s a conversation I had to do. He went to Barry in the second half of the first half and strongly suggested the defensive coordinator do something different as the Packers are 17-14 behind in the second half.

“I think we made some necessary adjustments at half-time. One of the things I said to Joe was definitely, “I’m rushing four and playing one-on-one defense. When I did, I hadn’t reached the quarterback, so I had to put pressure on what play coverage. ”“ La Fleur said shortly after the game.

Barry spoke a lot about the timing of the rough rules warning on Thursday, highlighting what he said before half-time instead of half-time. Barry also said: “Angry” and “Furious”.

“I was pissed off. Matt was upset. He has the right to be the head coach. Before the end of half time he clearly spoke as a spectator,” Barry said. “I think what that is. is good with Matt, is that he’s very involved. I love him. As a head coach you should be. But yeah, like I said, half When it was finished, we talked about a few things.

“I think we are calm. I’m proud of their reaction in the second half.

The Packers threw a shutout in the second half with the help of Jared Goff’s turnover. And in the third quarter, Barry certainly composed more blitz than in the first half.

When asked if what happened to the Lions was a sign that he would be more involved in defense in the future, Ruff Rule replied that it wouldn’t necessarily be the case.

“I think it’s based on the situation,” La Fleur said. “At the end of the day, I know I’m responsible for all three phases. Whether it’s offensive, defensive or a special team, challenge (to the assistant coach). I feel part of my responsibility to do so. If you have any questions or if you find something that you find useful.

“But I didn’t tell Joe or (task force coordinator) Mo (Drayton) exactly what to do.”

Barry was asked what he thought of Rafruul’s involvement: “He’s the head coach. He has the right to make suggestions and requests. Matt isn’t at all. He is. It is most encouraging. What makes Matt so great is that as coordinators with him, and indeed all the staff, let’s talk about football during the day, in the office at night and apparently on game day. I think that’s it. “

This is one of the things that Oliva Dotti and defensive back coach / Defensive Pass game coordinator Jerry Gray also noticed. And that might help make the conversation that La Fleur and Barry were on the sidelines on Monday night a little offensive.

“To me when you’re the head coach you are the head coach of the whole team,” said Gray, two-time defense coordinator (Buffalo, TN) and four-time cornerback for the Pro. Bowl. “(Our) job is to say, what does the head coach want? What does he think? ”And the good thing is that Matt is trying to make other teams. And to give us another perspective (attack oriented) on how to fight him.

“Matt and I talk a lot. Hey, Jerry, what do you think? What do you think? ‘… But for me, every time the head coach walks into your office, he says he has the right to say what he wants and to do what he wants to do . “

As the Packers’ defense struggles, Matt LaFleur chooses his spot to influence Joe Barry’s approach.

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